Duke University Chapel views the creative arts as both an expression of worship to God and an expression of human longing for God.
By creating art from the materials of creation, the creative arts reflect both the broken beauty and the glory of our created selves. Duke Chapel creates a space on campus for the artistic expression of the spiritual life by:
- Preserving the rich traditions of worship and sacred music,
- Offering innovative opportunities for visual and performance arts, and
- Crafting student and community-based programming for ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse aesthetic offerings
We accomplish these goals with local, regional, and international partners, including: Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, Duke Visual and Media Arts, the Nasher Museum for Art, Duke Performances, the Center for Documentary Studies, and the larger Durham community.
Duke Chapel Arts are made possible in part by the Office of the President and the generosity of friends of the Chapel.
The Chapel solicits additional exhibits related to faith and learning from a spiritual, theological, or social justice viewpoint. To propose an exhibit, please fill out the online Duke Chapel Art Inquiry form.
Now on Display
Matter + Spirit: A Chinese/American Exhibition | August 15–October 15, 2023
This exhibition, presented by Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, features selected works from the Matter + Spirit collection, which explores the spiritual dimension of life in contemporary culture in the United States and China. It includes: a photographic study of rural Chinese churches; pencil drawings that signal the sacredness of the human subject by creating an implied halo; and an oil painting interpreting the biblical account of Jesus’s meal at the village of Emmaus. The origins of Matter + Spirit go back to a gathering of North American art professors with their Chinese counterparts in June 2018 in China. The group visited artists’ enclaves and cultural sites in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai, considering issues of art, contemporary society, spirituality, and their role as culture makers, critics, and seers. The artworks in the exhibition represent this encounter, its conversations, and what was summoned by the artists’ interactions. The gathering was sponsored by the Nagel Institute at Calvin University, which focuses on ways in which the study of world Christianity can change. Learn more.
Transcendence and Immanence: The Sacred Ink Wash Art of DaoZi | October 17–November 26, 2023
This exhibition, presented by Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, comprises works by DaoZi, a Chinese poet, art critic, and painter. Also named Wang Min, DaoZi is a professor and supervisor of doctoral candidates in the School of Art at Tsinghua University, and is also a visiting professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a member of the International Aesthetics Association. He was deputy editor-in-chief of Chang An, a monthly journal organized by Xi’an Association of Literature and Arts, and a professor and chairman of the Department of Fine Art of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, as well as vice president of Chongqing Literature and Arts Critics Association. In Transcendence and Immanence, DaoZi creates the artwork through a process he calls “Saintism Ink-Wash Painting,” which combines traditional Chinese calligraphy and ink painting techniques with themes from his Christian faith. The exhibition of thirty works is curated to provide a visual encounter with the transcendence and immanence of God. It is intended to be a manifestation of the artist's empathy with the age, the suffering earth and the spirit of humanity. The installation at Duke Chapel is the exhibition’s premiere in the United States. Learn more.
The Beards of Muslim Men | April 12–May 5, 2023
Selected as the 2023 C. Eric Lincoln Fellow in Theology and Arts, graduate student Shiraz Ahmed explores how and why local Muslim men wear beards in his exhibition The Beards of Muslim Men. The exhibition places photographic portraits of bearded Muslim men on stylized backgrounds. Pursuing a master of fine arts in documentary at Duke, Ahmed was prompted to create the exhibition based on his recent experience of living in metro Detroit. Learn more.
Stations of the Cross | April 2–9, 2023
Throughout Holy Week (April 2–9), the Chapel is displaying the paintings of the Stations of the Cross by Margaret Adams Parker. The series of fourteen panels depicts Christ’s journey to the cross with contemporary figures rendered in muted browns. Parker focuses in these paintings on Christ’s strength in the face of suffering and the intimacy of his encounters with others on his Via Dolorosa (“Way of Suffering”).
Marc Chagall and the Bible | January 12–March 30, 2023
In partnership with Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA), the Chapel will present an exhibition of prints of works by the distinguished, modernist artist Marc Chagall. Curated by the art collector Sandra Bowden, the exhibition, Marc Chagall and the Bible, features etchings and lithographs with biblical themes.
Communion of Saints: A Reflection on the Body of Christ through Time and Space | April 18–May 16, 2022
Communion of Saints: A Reflection on the Body of Christ through Time and Space presents woodblock prints of past saints and important figures of the church alongside images of current students, faculty and staff at Duke. The series of prints represents the beautiful diversity of the body of Christ across time, place and culture. Communion of Saints was created by Rebekah Schultz, a Duke Divinity School student. Schultz was selected as this year’s Duke University Chapel C. Eric Lincoln Fellow. The annual C. Eric Lincoln Theology and Arts Fellowship provides funding to an undergraduate or graduate student to complete a sacred art project and is named in honor of C. Eric Lincoln who was a professor of Religion and Culture at Duke University from 1976–1993. Read more about the saints depicted in this exhibition.
Stations of the Cross | March 2–April 15, 2022
Artist Margaret Adams Parker's Stations of the Cross panels depict Christ's Journey to the Cross with contemporary figures rendered in muted browns. The gold paint of the background evokes the icon tradition, while the deep red of the outer panels calls to mind the rich colors of Medieval images. Old Testament texts at the bottom of each panel are passages traditionally considered to "prefigure" the Passion. The sole New Testament text, for the Crucifixion, is the Christ Hymn from Philippians. Parker focuses in these paintings on Christ's strength in the face of suffering and the intimacy of his encounters with others on his Via Dolorosa.
Margaret Adams Parker is a sculptor and printmaker with an extensive exhibition record. Her commissions include the award-winning Mary as Prophet for Virginia Theological Seminary, Reconciliation for Duke Divinity School, Harriet Tubman for St Paul’s Church, Rock Creek Parish, Washington, DC, and The Communion of Saints for St. Agnes Catholic Church, Shepherdstown, WV. A Senior Lecturer at Virginia Theological Seminary, Parker holds a BA from Wellesley College and MFA from American University and was awarded a Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship. Parker served as Artist in Residence at the Luce Center for Art and Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, and as a Fellow with the Calvin College Summer Seminars and the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life.
In conjunction with this exhibition, local ministers have offered reflections for the season of Lent. Read them here.
For those who wish to learn more about the spiritual practices associated with the Stations of the Cross, Parker's book Praying the Stations of the Cross, written with theologian Katherine Sonderegger, is available in the Duke Divinity School bookshop.
Join Parker and Duke Divinity School Professor Ellen Davis for an artist talk about the Stations of the Cross exhibition on Tuesday, April 5, at 5:00 p.m. at the Chapel.
Reliquary of Complicated Truths | February 1–28, 2022
Presented by Duke University Chapel and the Everything Happens Project, the commissioned exhibition Reliquary of Complicated Truths by multidisciplinary artist Lanecia Rouse Tinsley is an installation created from discarded wood, paper, and other material that invites viewers to place within the cracks of the work their response to the prompt “In my life, there is no cure for. . . .”
Call and Response: Remembering Prayer, Protest, and Acts of Justice
This exhibition was on display in the fall of 2021.
Sourced from the University Archives, this photography exhibtion shows images of past campus vigils and protests. Alongside the photographs, "remember" buttons for visitors to take as a symbol for remembering the love and hope that have united us in times of personal and national loss and struggle.
On the Shoulders of Our Sisters!
This exhibition was on display from May 23 to July 26, 2021.
This exhibition explores the ministry and faith of Black Clergywomen in the Commonwealth of Virginia through audio recordings and photography. It is presented by Kaiya Jennings, a Duke Divinity School student who is also an adjunct professor and faith and service coordinator at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. “There are countless faithful African American women in Virginia, who have been called and affirmed to pastor churches or to lead as staff pastors and community liaisons, even though they face much opposition due to race, gender, and sexuality,” Jennings says. “This exhibition will show how African American clergywomen are leading and living out their callings within the church and the community.”
Jennings created the exhibition through the Chapel’s C. Eric Lincoln Theology & Arts Fellowship.
St. John's Bible
This exhibition was on display from January 14 to March 8, 2020.
Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) at Duke Divinity School is sponsoring an exhibition of artwork from the Heritage Edition of The Saint John's Bible that is on display in Duke Chapel from January 17 to March 8. The exhibition is free and open to the public during the Chapel’s operating hours. The Saint John’s Bible incorporates many of the characteristics of its medieval predecessors: it was written on vellum using quills, natural handmade inks, hand ground pigments and gild such as gold leaf, silver leaf, and platinum. Yet, it employs the modern, English translation of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the bible, as well as contemporary scripts and illuminations. The prints displayed in this gallery showcase a small sampling of the approximately 160 illuminations in the completed work.
DITA10 Visual Art Exhibition
This exhibition was on display in September of 2019.
In 2019, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts celebrated ten years of developing rich engagements between Christian theology and the arts. This exhibition is a part of that celebration—and an exercise in both reflecting theologically upon visual art and allowing visual art to pose theological questions. The works in this exhibition engage the complexities of loss, gain, presence, and absence, exploring theological resonance through figure, line, color, and their disruptions. They come to Duke from three different artists and three different places; they differ in medium, style, and composition and yet hold in common a theological imagination. The works collected here bear vibrant, varied witness to a presence in common—to God’s own presence within time and with us.
This art is displayed in the Chapel through partnership with the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts.
A Nation of Faith
This exhibition was on display in the Chapel from April 23 to May 6, 2019.
India, like America, is a country of many different faiths—Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Religion in India influences so many things that are distinctive to Indian culture: the vibrant colors and style of Indian clothing, the preparation of different Indian foods, the intricate storytelling style of classical Indian dance. In this exhibition of her original paintings, Lizbeth Leapo, E ’19, explores the rich diversity of Indian traditions and beliefs. It aims to capture the ways in which faith is expressed in a nation where hope is often translated through a belief in something bigger than oneself.
Leapo created the exhibition through the Chapel’s C. Eric Lincoln Theology & Arts Fellowship.
Standing on Love
This collection of photographic portraits brings centerstage family members living with a loved one on death row. Their faces and words are meant to offer a chance to reflect on the meaning of values such as justice, mercy, and compassion. The Standing on Love exhibition was created through collaboration among people living on America's Death Row, their families, and the community arts collective Hidden Voices. It is part of Hidden Voices’ series Serving Life: Re-Visioning Justice.
This exhibition was part of the Chapel's project Always Human: Re-Visioning Justice, which includes a companion exhibition at the Rubenstein Arts Center as well as a series of events related to the themes of the two exhibitions.
The photographer for the exhibition is Jenny Warburg. She is a freelance photographer and former social worker living in Durham, North Carolina. Her photographs have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Los Angeles Times, People, Rolling Stone, US Weekly, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, Ms., The Guardian, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report. Her photos have also appeared in numerous books and on book covers, as well as in many documentary films, television documentaries and news programs.
Faith in Color: A Photographic Exploration of Race, Religion, and America in Tribute to C. Eric Lincoln
The exhibition was on display in the Chapel from April 4 to May 1, 2018.
Faith in Color: A Photographic Exploration of Race, Religion, and America in Tribute to C. Eric Lincoln explores the deep roots of religious influence in black communities. The exhibition showcases the work of Evan Nicole Bell, a Duke senior pursuing a self-designed Program II major "Documenting Justice: The Role of Photographic Narratives in Activism." See her portfolio. Evan created "Faith in Color" as the Duke Chapel C. Eric Lincoln Theology and Arts Fellow.The exhibition pairs photographs with quotes from C. Eric Lincoln, a professor of religion and culture at Duke from 1976 to 1993. Lincoln was a scholar of black church and religious studies, as well as a Methodist minister who also wrote novels and poems.
- January 9 – February 21, 2018, Beauty Given by Grace: The Biblical Prints of Sadao Watanabe
- December 6 – December 21, 2017, Mary: The Paper Doll Project by Carole Baker
- November 3 – November 30, 2017, Sitters in Transit by William Paul Thomas
- April 24 – May 5, 2017, Lincoln Fellow Artist-in-Residence Exhibit
- March 5 – April 6, 2017, Miserere et Guerre by George Rouault
- February 5 – February 26, 2017, Beyond Bridges